A taxi cuts you off in Rome. A Mumbai merchant spurns your best offer. A maitre d' snubs you in Beirut. At times like these, words can fail even the most seasoned polyglot. But now salvation is literally at hand, thanks to Rude Hand Gestures of the World, by Romana Lefevre, with photographs by Daniel Castro.
When you're abroad and someone is giving you the thumbs up sign, it may not mean quite what you think it does. Likewise, in Jordan you should avoid inadvertently brushing your nose with your finger as it might lead to some unwanted sexual attention.
Sign: Thumb Ups
Meaning: Up yours
Used in: Greece, Latin America, Middle East, Russia, Sardinia, Western Africa
Depending on where you are, a thumbs up could just be a sign of approval. But in some countries, this refers to an action in the nether regions, and is meant as an offense. Visitors should note that to add insult to injury, the thumb can be jerked upwards.
Sign: Le Camembert
Meaning: Shut up
Used in: France
This gesture mimes the closing of the mouth. Hold the fingers straight and then close them against the thumb
Click to read more »